by Victor Davis Hanson
Tribune Media Services
Do you remember candidate Barack Obama offering his hope-and-change platitudes in front of the fake Greek columns during the Democratic convention? Or earlier pontificating at the Victory Monument in Berlin?
Why didn’t an old cigar-chomping Democratic pro take him aside and warn him about offending Nemesis? She is the dreaded goddess who brings divine retribution in ironic fashion to overweening arrogance.
Or maybe a friend could have whispered to Senator Obama to tone it down when he was merciless in damning the Bush administration for its supposedly slow response to Hurricane Katrina.
Obama railed that Bush showed “unconscionable ineptitude.” Obama further charged that Bush’s response was “achingly slow,” a result of “passive indifference,” and that his team was rife with “corruption and cronyism.”
Those adjectives now apply to Obama himself, as he seems lost amid his own disaster — eerily in about the same Gulf environs. Adding insult to injury, a recent poll revealed that Louisiana residents thought Bush had done a better job with Katrina than Obama has with BP.
Couldn’t one of Obama’s many handlers have warned him to ignore the media’s tingling-leg gaga worship, or their nonsense that Obama is “a god”?
Didn’t Team Obama ever suspect that such an unhinged press, in the manner of a Greek chorus, could just as easily sour on their prophet once his poll ratings fell as quickly as they had soared?
Couldn’t David Axelrod or Rahm Emanuel have admonished their candidate to cut out the creepy stuff about himself and his throng being “the ones we’ve been waiting for”? Why was there a need for all that megalomaniac hocus-pocus about slowing the “rise of the oceans” and healing the planet? Sure enough, Nemesis ensured that instead of Lord Poseidon lowering the seas, Obama is now a smoky Hephaestus fouling them up.
Did the Nobel Committee members really think they were doing their postnational, postracial heartthrob any good by giving him a peace prize without any record of foreign-policy accomplishment? Didn’t his Scandinavian admirers grasp that prophets suffer the wages of hypocrisy far more readily than mere mortals when things go badly, as they inevitably do? Jay Leno is now more likely to use the phrase “Nobel Laureate Obama” than a serious diplomat.
For nearly two years, senator, candidate and freshman President Obama ridiculed his predecessor — as if running the United States were as easy a job as community organizing, serving a couple of years in the Senate or campaigning for president.
But now the once-enthralled electorate is starting to tire of the hope-and-change platitudes, and even of the easy blame-gaming of his predecessor, mostly because almost everything Obama once demagogued in weird fashion is coming back to haunt him.
Obama easily damned everything from Guantanamo Bay to Predator drone attacks in Afghanistan to the war in Iraq, only to adopt those policies and more from Bush.
He sermonized about the morals of a corrupt Republican Congress, only to keep quiet about earmarks, lobbyists and the sins of Democratic cronies such as Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Charles Rangel.
Deficits were once supposed proof of Bush’s out-of-control spending. What does far greater red ink say about Obama?
If only swaggering George W. Bush could have been smart enough to reach out to Cuba, Iran and Syria. Then Obama did just that, only to make bad things even worse.
And remember the Obama comment about an arrogant Bush turning off our allies? Why, then, does an aloof Obama seem to alienate them even more?
The reality of Barack Obama is that he was an inexperienced community organizer with an undistinguished record as a Senate newcomer. A perfect storm of popular anger at eight years of George Bush, a lackluster John McCain campaign, Obama’s landmark candidacy as an African-American, a disingenuous campaign promising centrist and bipartisan governance, and the financial meltdown in 2008 got the relatively untried and unknown Obama elected.
Most mortals in Obama’s position would have treaded lightly. They would have kept promises, steered a moderate course and listened more than lectured until they won over the public with concrete achievement.
But headstrong tragic figures do not do that. They neither welcome in critics nor would listen to them if they did. They impute their unforeseen temporary success to their own brilliance — and expect it to continue forever. So would-be gods set themselves up for a fall far harder than what happens to the rest of us.
That’s about where we are now, with our president playing a character right out of Greek tragedy, who, true to form, is railing about the unfairness of it all.
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